Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 14.12.2014.
The police report lodged by Batu Kawan Umno vice-chief Khairuddin Abu Hassan against 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) for mismanagement of funds has exposed the intense internal power struggle and crisis within UMNO. UMNO cannot distract attention from the UMNO internal crisis over 1MDB by bullying me with lies that I am trying to interfere in Islamic affairs for my statement that an Islamic religious edict or fatwa is not applicable on non-Muslims because Islamic laws cannot be imposed on non-Muslims.
This position that a fatwa does not apply to non-Muslims is not only human and morally right but also sanctioned by the Federal Constitution and even embodied by the Administration of the Religion of Islam(State of Penang) Enactment 2004. Section 49(1) of the Enactment states that a fatwa shall be binding on every Muslim in the state…, without mentioning non-Muslims, clearly restricting its application on Muslims.
I regret that Home Minister Datuik Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has either been misinformed or is deliberately trying to distort the issue for political gain to raise hatred and threaten me for interfering in Islamic affairs when I have not done so. Instead Ahmad Zahid should be training his guns on MCA for demanding that the Penang state government repeal the Administration of the Religion of Islam(State of Penang) Enactment 2004 to allow the use of Allah by Christians.
Neither DAP nor the Penang state government had ever asked for the repeal of the Administration of the Religion of Islam(State of Penang) Enactment 2004. This inflammatory demand by MCA calling for the repeal of the Islamic Enactment is clearly a definite and serious interference in the administration of Islamic affairs? Why then is there no action or attacks by UMNO on MCA? Clearly UMNO and MCA are playing a double-faced political game of attacking me for being anti-Islam whilst both Gerakan and MCA has even attacked me for being anti non-Muslim for doubling the annual budget’s allocation for Islamic affairs, as compared to the previous BN government.
Non-Muslims and moderate Muslims generally disagree with the BN Federal government’s decision to ban Christians, especially form Sabah and Sarawak who had been praying in Bahasa Malaysia, from using the word Allah. However despite this disagreement, the Penang state government respects the decision made by the Federal Court that the Catholic publication “The Herald”, is forbidden from using the word Allah.
Even though the Penang state government may not agree with the court’s decision, as a government that is run on the basis of respect for the rule of law, the Penang state government will abide by the court decision. This was displayed by our acceptance of the Federal Court’s decision to reject our application to conduct local government elections and return the third vote.
I had responded to MCA’s lies, that the present Administration of the Religion of Islam(State of Penang) Enactment 2004 and the fatwas issued under the Enactment only covers Muslim and is not enforceable on non-Muslims as Islamic laws are not applicable on non-Muslims. Accordingly, any fatwa issued(including those banning the use of certain words) does not apply to non-Muslims and Penang cannot forbid any non-Muslim from using certain words. This legal position has been confirmed by prominent lawyers such as the late Karpal Singh.
I am stating the legal position that the Penang state religious bodies have authority over Muslims, but not non-Muslims. Of course Ahmad Zahid or other UMNO leaders can choose to extend Federal government powers of Islamic laws on non-Muslims if they desire to do so, but their disputed legality can then be challenged and decided in courts. Ahmad Zahid should not try to twist the issue to one of the Penang Chief Minister’s interference of Islamic affairs when it is about stating that the there is no legal authority to apply fatwas on non-Muslims in Penang.
LIM GUAN ENG
—– Mandarin Version —